A reader wrote to me recently and asked if I had revised one of my blog posts after publishing it.
“I really enjoyed your Catcher in the Rye bit,” she said. “I thought it was funny. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went back to your blog the next morning before work, to read it again.
“However,” she continued, “the post seemed different from what I remembered. A lot of the jokes were still there, but they were written differently than they had been before. It’s like the wording was streamlined, tightened. A couple of the paragraphs seemed completely reworked.
“It’s no big deal,” she said. “I’m just curious. Do you sometimes revise your work after it’s been published? I heard that Stanley Kubrick altered his movies years after they were released. But then again, he was a genius. So if you do revise your posts after they’re published, then maybe you’re a genius like him [smiley-face winking emotion].”
(And yes, she actually spelled out “smiley-face winking emoticon,” complete with the brackets. Which gave me a good indication of what I was working with.)
I assured her that her hunch was correct — that I indeed am a creative genius in the vein of Stanley Kubrick.
However, as far as revising my posts after they’re published, I told her it was far more likely that she had crossed over from a parallel universe. It’s easy to do. Sometimes a person’s not even aware at first that they’ve done it. They go to sleep one night, and BAM — they wake up in a parallel universe.
The thing about parallel universes is that they’re sometimes hard to tell apart. I explained to the reader that her universe was probably a lot like this one. Most likely she lived at the same place and worked at the same job. She probably had the same middle name and the same hair color as she always had.
But I assured her that tiny, minuscule differences would soon become apparent. Maybe in this universe, her carpet was brown instead of beige. Or maybe her favorite houseplant had 17 leaves instead of 16. Or maybe she could recall a famous celebrity that no one else could remember.
“You mean like Chevy Chase?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “I mean, someone who stands out in your mind as being famous, but nobody else seems to recall who they are.”
“Right,” she wrote. “Chevy Chase.”
I reminded her that the first difference she had noticed was the content of my blog. Specifically, the reader had remembered my Catcher in the Rye post as being different than its current version — the version as it appears in this universe.
“I don’t know,” she wrote. “The whole thing sounds a little far-fetched. It seems more likely that you just revised your post after the fact.
“Case in point,” she continued, “I remember at the end, you used the phrase ‘bare minimum.’ Except in the original post, you had misspelled it ‘bear minimum,’ which I thought was downright ignorant. However, when I reread your post the next morning, I noticed that you had quietly corrected the spelling, probably hoping that nobody would notice.”
“Well, you’re entitled to your opinion,” I wrote. “And if you ever do find your way back to your universe, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. Maybe you and my parallel counterpart can hook up for drinks. 😉 ”
“OK, now that’s just weird,” she said. “In my universe, we spell those things out.”